Food & Drink

By the bowlful: Deliciously contained dinners

I think plates should have big rims. Sort of like giant bowls.

I say this because I’m a bit of a messy eater.

Bowls really are the perfect meal container for me. I admit that food has a tendency to wander off my plate. Plus, I don’t mind different foods touching.

So, a food story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram got me thinking about bowl dinners. What you’ll find here are first three recipes from that paper; the rest are ones I found. While they may start in a pot or pan, they end up in a bowl.


1/3 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2)

1 cup buttermilk*

2 cups Doritos crumbs (about 5 ounces)

3 tablespoons chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups black beans

2 cups corn

Lime-cilantro yogurt, recipe follows

Lime wedges, for serving

Chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil (for easy clean-up).

2. Put the chicken breasts in a heavy-duty plastic bag and, using a rolling pin, pound them down until they’re even and flat (about 1/4 inch thick). Remove chicken from the bag and cut into 1-inch-wide strips, then into 2-inch pieces.

3. Place chicken pieces in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over them.

4. Mix the Doritos crumbs, chile powder and cumin in a shallow bowl.

5. Put a few chicken pieces at a time into the Doritos-chile mixture, tossing to make sure they are well covered, then lay out on a cookie sheet. Work in batches until all are coated.

6. Bake 13 minutes.

7. While the chicken’s cooking, warm the rice, beans and corn in separate saucepans, or in the microwave.

8. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest 3 or 4 minutes while you assemble the bowls. In each bowl, layer: 1 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup corn. Now add 1/4 of the chicken. Drizzle some of the lime-cilantro yogurt on top, or serve on the side, along with lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro.

Makes 4 servings, each (without lime-cilantro yogurt) having 674 calories, 16 grams fat, 109 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 24 mg cholesterol, 377 mg sodium, 17 grams dietary fiber.

*Make your own buttermilk: In a liquid measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar. Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir. The mixture will begin to curdle. Let sit on counter for 10 to 15 minutes before using.


11 ounces Greek yogurt

A big handful of fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1 lime (about a teaspoon)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch sea salt

Put all of the ingredients in your food processor and puree. Taste and adjust for seasonings. This is best when refrigerated for a half-hour to an hour before serving.

Makes 4 servings, each with 83 calories, 5 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 5 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium.

This is a salad version of eating falafel, which is usually stuffed in a pita with spicy yogurt. Here, the recipe makes about 16 to 20 falafel patties, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers.


11 ounces Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons harissa*

2 large pitas, torn into small pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Sea salt and pepper

1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove of garlic

1 shallot

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

A small handful cilantro, stems included

Arugula, for serving

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make the dressing by whisking together the Greek yogurt and harissa and placing in the fridge until ready to serve.

2. Toss the pita pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt and pepper. Lay out on a cookie sheet and bake until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Put the remaining ingredients (except the arugula and sumac) in the food processor or blender and pulse until combined.

4. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, flat skillet over medium-high heat, and when it’s ready, scoop balls of falafel into the hot skillet. Brown on both sides and lay on a paper-towel-lined plate.

5. Assemble the salads by putting a handful of arugula into each bowl and top with three or four falafels, some pita chip croutons and a spoonful or two of the dressing.

Tip: Freeze the leftover falafels. To reheat, let them thaw and simply warm through in a skillet using about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Makes 2 servings, each with 772 calories, 33 grams fat, 95 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 10 mg cholesterol, 1,905 mg sodium, 11 grams dietary fiber

*Harissa is a Northwest African chile pepper paste with red peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic, coriander, caraway. Look for it in small cans at most supermarkets.

If you want to serve a side with the bowl meal, try fresh sliced oranges, Asian pears or other fruit.

Easy Asian Beef & Noodles

1 (8-ounce) rib-eye steak

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided

1 cup (1-inch) sliced green onions

2 cups prepackaged coleslaw (the kind without dressing)

2 (2.8-ounce) packages beef-flavor ramen noodle soup

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Trim fat from steak; cut diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak and onions; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove steak mixture from pan; keep warm.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil until hot. Add slaw; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove slaw from pan and add to the cooked beef; keep warm.

Remove noodles from packages; reserve 1 seasoning packet for another use. Add the water and remaining seasoning packet to pan; bring to a boil. Break noodles in half; add noodles to water mixture. Cook noodles 2 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in steak mixture, slaw, and soy sauce; cook briefly until thoroughly heated. Service with fresh green onions as a garnish.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves (1 teaspoon) minced garlic

1/2 cup (1 small) onion, chopped

1 cup zucchini, shredded

2 bell peppers (I used an orange and yellow one), chopped

1 cup tri-colored or regular quinoa

2 cups (16 ounces) chicken broth

1 can (12.5 ounces) precooked chicken breast, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken

Salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

2-3tablespoons lime juice

In a large pot over medium heat, heat up the olive oil and add in the garlic and onion. Cook until fragrant and tender or about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the shredded zucchini and chopped bell peppers. Stir about 1 minute.

Add in the quinoa and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn to low and cover with a lid.

Let cook until all of the broth is evaporated into the quinoa, about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in chicken and add in salt and pepper to taste.

Let cool for a minute and then stir in cilantro and lime juice to taste.

Serve immediately in 4 bowls.

Asian Salmon Bowl with Lime Sauce

1 cup jasmine rice

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each), skin removed

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 packages (5 ounces each) baby spinach (or substitute broccoli, but be sure to cook it until just tender)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice as directed on package.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté garlic and pepper flakes until garlic is lightly golden, 1 minute. Add syrup, juice and soy sauce; cook until bubbling, 3 minutes.

In a bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 teaspoon water; stir into garlic glaze. Cook until slightly thick, 1 minute. Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread 1 teaspoon glaze over each fillet. Roast until just cooked through, 12 minutes.

In a medium skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add 1 package spinach; sauté until just wilted. Remove from pan; set aside. Repeat with second package spinach. Divide rice among 4 bowls; top each with 1/4 spinach and 1 salmon fillet, broken into large pieces. Drizzle with remaining sauce; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds.